Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A Reversal of Destiny (WORD-Filled Wednesday)

Pointing us Godward today.  Celebrating our Reversal of Destiny!

Death has been swallowed up in victory
Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.
But thanks be to God! 
He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 15:54-57

Give a shout, Friend! 
And fill up with the Word.

** If you're not a regular blogger, you may not know that there is such a thing as Wordless Wednesdays.  I began WORD-Filled Wednesdays in response to that.  What I didn't know: There is an entire community of lovely ladies doing the same thing! So of course I wanted to join them!  Feel free to click the Word-Filled Wednesdays link on the side of my page to see more Godward-looking women. **

Monday, March 29, 2010

Your Words, My Treasure

My Bible is lighter.  So is my spirit.  I just emptied the Word of treasures and reread them slowly.

These lovely jewels have been tucked away in my favorite book.  I am a card-keeper.  Oh, not all cards. But the ones that mean much to me. Some of these cards I had hidden in my Bible so that I could carry them closely. 

There is a birthday card from my grandma who passed away years ago.  It was the last one I received from her, and it wasn't even in her hand.  She asked my mom to write for her because her hands were too swollen.  She died a few days later.

It has resided alongside a much more recent card from my Pocahontas . . . a card written to let me know what I mean to her.  Priceless to me.

There are many more that I've sheltered between the pages of the Ultimate Letter . . . precious words tucked between Living Words.  But it's time to move them to a new home -- the larger treasure chest in my bedroom where I keep very special things.  It holds the stockings my mom made for us to hang at Christmas; the quilts from a great-grandmother that I'm not currently displaying; my boys' tiniest baby clothes.  Plus many other cards and letters too dear to me to let go of:  love letters from my husband, cards with encouraging words from friends and family over the years.  Words that have reminded me I am loved, have helped me to press on, to continue doing right, to persevere.  And every time I peer into the chest, it's an opening of gifts and memories and encouragement.  Treasures.

In this day of quick comments and Facebook updates that are easy and helpful in their own way (but not nearly so lasting), please let me give you a little nudge.  May I gently push you in the direction of that desk that holds your pretty paper and your favorite writing pen?  Your words just may be "apples of gold in settings of silver" to someone.    

Write riches to one you love or to one who could use some encouragement.  Write your heart for them to drink in with their eyes, hold in their hands, and tuck away to treasure again and again.


Sunday, March 28, 2010

Her Mother's Hope

Relationships are so complicated and complex.  Trying to discern our own motives are difficult, and when we try to peek into another's heart, it's even more confusing.  After all, "Each heart knows its own bitterness, and no one else can share its joy"  (Proverbs 14:10).

And yet, we seek to understand.  "The purposes of a man's heart are deep water, but a man of understanding draws them out" (Proverbs 20:5). 

Francine Rivers is seeking to draw out deep water in Her Mother's Hope, the first of a two-book saga called Marta's Legacy.  Ms. Rivers is at the top of my favorite author's list, so I was eagerly anticipating this book.  I have said before that my only complaint about her is that she hasn't written enough books.  And my favorite genre is historical fiction.  This book did not disappoint. 

The heroine of the novel is a strong-willed independent woman.  I love that.  Marta is determined to flee an abusive father in Switzerland and pursue her dreams wherever they lead her in the years before the First World War.  I found myself rooting for her to succeed and sorrowing with her through her difficulties.  She eventually lands in Canada and starts a family of her own.  It is in her mothering that we really begin to see the relationships unfold -- the conflicts, the drama, the bitterness, the joy. 

And it is in her mothering of Hildie, her oldest daughter, that Marta frustrated me and infuriated me most. But she also captivated me.  She caused me to examine my mothering and to attempt to view it from where my children stand.  Do they see my prodding and expectations as severe?  Do they know, know, know that I love them and am proud of them?  And how often do I bungle the relationships of the very ones I love so dearly in the name of trying to do what's best for them?

Her Daughter's Dream, the conclusion of Marta's Legacy, will not be out until the fall of this year.  However, the thoughts and questions the book stirred within me will keep me company as I wait. 


Saturday, March 27, 2010

Through Sorrow She Sings

She is my friend. A beautiful bird -- like a robin. Sweet and honest, she brightens my day. She sings through her sorrow, and says that I encourage her. Yet her strength in grieving marvels me. She continues to believe, to trust, to live.

She is also my friend. My Pocahontas. My bright star and little sis. She is The Robin’s middle bird. Silly and not afraid to be who she is. She likes my camera.

This is the Robin’s Baby Bird. I adore her. She can marry whomever she chooses as long as the boy is one of mine.

This is The Robin’s too – The Builder of the nest. I love him in all his scariness. I must. He has frightening pictures of me, and he's not afraid to use them.

And this one. Pocahonta’s mirror opposite. The Robin’s oldest bird. The Sleeping Beauty, I named her. Little did I know that she would sleep before us all.

It is in this I marvel: The Robin still sings, still smiles, still lives, even though her first bird has flown to Jesus. Over a year passes, and we all still miss her. The heart may seem trapped in winter, but because of Jesus, The Robin can call forth spring.

"Let not your heart be troubled,"
His tender word I hear,
And resting on His goodness,
I lose my doubts and fears;
Though by the path He leadeth
But one step I may see:
His eye is on the sparrow,
And I know He watches me.
His eye is on the sparrow,
And I know He watches me.


Friday, March 26, 2010

What Brings You Home? (Friendly Friday)

For several years my husband, children and I lived away from our family.  We were able to visit, but not as often as we liked.  Now, we're just a stone's throw away.  I have a house and home of my own that I love and wouldn't trade for the world.  Yet, every time I step through the door of my parent's home, it's like stepping through the door of my childhood and into comfort and warmth and memories. 

the quilt

the mirror

the mantle

the candy dish

These pieces of personal history fill my eyes and heart with beauty . . . and bring me home.

It's Friendly Friday.  I ask; you answer.  (And I've really been loving your answers!)

What brings you home?
I really want to know.


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

WORD-Filled Wednesday: Sing with Creation

Pointing us Godward today.  Singing with all of creation.

"I will praise You as long as I live,
and in Your Name I will lift up my hands."
Psalm 63:4

Fill up with His Word.


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A Recovering Drill Sergeant

My kiddos don’t like to be told what to do (they're like their mom), but the house was a mess, and it was time to do some cleaning.  I was anticipating the weekly whine as I prepared to give out orders.

My oldest is ten. He’s responsible, smart and capable. Yet, when it comes time to clean the house, I find myself giving him detailed instructions:

    Take the bowls to the dishwasher
     Pick up the books
     Fold the blankets . . .

And sometimes, he bristles. Now, I believe in cheerful obedience, but I also believe that parents shouldn’t exasperate their children. I can be pretty exasperating. (If you know me, quit nodding!) I realized that I was not treating him according to his maturity.

But this time, before the barking -- and the bristling -- began, I had a light bulb moment. You see, I’m tired of playing the drill sergeant barking orders, and I think my rascals might just be tired of being bossed. A new approach popped into my head.

I looked at The Thinker and said, “I want to try something new. The house needs cleaned, but I’m not going to tell you what to do. I want you to look around, see what needs to be done and do it.”  I walked away and began working on the tasks that I needed to complete.

And guess what?  It worked. He began cleaning up everywhere he saw a need.  I wasn’t barking.  He wasn’t bristling. We both went to work, and the house looks presentable. Along the way, I had chances to compliment him for noticing things and taking care of them without prompting and with persevering. He beamed.

My younger son is a little less responsible, a little less mature and much more distractible. He’s also less bristly, but I get tired of reminding him to finish when he loses focus. I used a narrower approach. Instead of giving him the whole house to think about at once, I pointed him to the family room, the dining room, the stairs, etc. But I said basically the same thing. “See what needs to be done and do it.”

And it worked.  As I was upstairs sorting laundry, I could hear the sweeper running in the family room.  No asking.  No reminding.  No ordering. 

Now I just need to get started on Baby Girl, the biggest mess-maker of all. I think I’ll ask her to help me pick up the napkins she just emptied out of the drawer. As tough as might be, the Princess needs to learn to serve too.


Monday, March 22, 2010

In the Shadow

Shadows.  When I was a child, they frightened me.  Vague shapes fed my wild imagination conjuring terrifying images of monsters, wolves (a strange fear of mine) and other perceived evils.

The valley of the shadow of death seems a dark and lonely place that someday I will face if Jesus tarries.  Vague, yet real.

But what is a shadow but the blocking of light?  And Who is the source of light?  Who IS Light?  If something blocks the Light, doesn't that simply mean that there is Light to be blocked?  His presence is there, even when my spiritual eyes are too dim to see it, even when the Light appears completely thwarted. 

Even the shadows must obey Him.

So "hide me in the shadow of Your wings,"
for in Your shadow, I have nothing to fear. 

For You are with me. 


Sunday, March 21, 2010

Surprised by Beauty

Sweet!  I received an award!

The best part:  I didn't have to agonize over what to wear to an awards ceremony and plan the perfect look for when I won and the cameras zoomed in on me.  Nope.  I was in my comfy pajamas covered with Baby Girl's princess blanket and was just plain surprised. 

So thank you to JDaniel4's Mom for awarding me!  Isn't she sweet?!

Now I get to have some fun and reward others!  I love unexpected gifts -- receiving and giving!
Here are the rules for the "Beautiful Blogger Award" and "One Lovely Blog Award":

Thank and link to the person that gave you the award.
Pass this award on to 15 fantastic bloggers you’ve recently discovered.
Contact the Bloggers and let them know they’ve won.
State 7 things about yourself:

     1.  I love chocolate and good food (hence Sugar Tails Recipe Box).
     2.  I have front row seats to the best sunrises and sunsets.
     3.  I'll read just about anything -- even the back of the shampoo bottle while I'm rinsing my hair.
     4.  I enjoy playing the piano, but so does Baby Girl -- and she wins.
     5.  I'm super-new to the blogging world.  I know nothing.
     6.  I love being told I'm beautiful.
     7.  There is a King enthralled by my beauty. And guess what?  He's enthralled by yours too!

Check out these beautiful blogs:

A Familiar Path
A Pilgrim's Project
Christine Sweet Photgraphy Blog
Other Such Happenings
An Unpink Life
Sew Chic and Unique
Bina's Pad
Amanda's Musings
Journey to Beauty
Sippy Cups and Fingerprints
Heart Songs From Haiti
Captured By God
Tarheel Stamper
Shasher's Stories



Don't Mess with Moses!

          Not only did King Solomon
          have seven hundred wives,
          he also had three hundred concubines.
          So was it customary,
          in the month of February,
          for the king to send a thousand valentines?

Welcome to “Writer’s Cramp,” just one of over a hundred fun poems for kids based on stories from the Old Testament of the Bible found in Don't Mess with Moses by Marty Nystrom. Some are hilarious; some are sweet. All are witty. I wish I could be so smart!

I know this is the second book review in a row, but I just had to share this one. My sis saw it in a bookstore a couple of years ago, and we each picked up a copy.  It’s still a favorite at our house. I had to pry it out of my son’s hands to share the poem above with you in honor of Children’s Poetry Day.

While I appreciate the books I read as an adult to keep my mind growing and learning (like the Isaac Newton book I reviewed for BookSneeze), and I love the idea of blogging for free books, I adore children’s books from my library. Maybe it’s because I can understand them without thinking too hard, or maybe it’s for pictures like this that tickle my funny bone:

So pick up some children's poetry and relax.  It's the perfect day for that.
Happy Sunday.  Happy Reading.


Saturday, March 20, 2010

On the Shoulders of a Giant: Isaac Newton

Brilliant. Isaac Newton was simply brilliant. I confess I knew very little about Newton other than a story about an apple falling on his head and his discovering gravity -- just like that. Apparently, that story isn’t quite right. However, it is true that he was able to learn and discover so much in a short amount of time.

Isaac Newton was a mathematician, philosopher, chemist, and physicist. That should be enough to scare anyone away, right? But on top of that, he was actually a theologian. In a nutshell, this guy’s mind was intimidating. He was a diligent student bent on creating a worldview that encompassed all of these things so that they fit together like the pieces of a puzzle. Ambitious, to say the least!

Mitch Stokes’ book, Isaac Newton (part of the Christian Encounters series), is not as intimidating as the man. I enjoyed getting to learn about this brilliant man who’s aim was actually to glorify God with his discoveries and studies. That’s rare. He had some interesting views on God, including the Trinity. Personally, I would have enjoyed the book more if it had included more about his personal and religious views and less on his scientific findings. But trigonometry and geometry were enough to drive me mad in school, so I might be biased. Perhaps if I understood those things, I could truly appreciate the man who invented calculus.  I do believe people with a mathematical or scientific background could appreiciate this more than my pitiful mind, but it was good to stretch it.  I plan on passing it on to my dad, a lover of science.

This much I gathered:  the rest of the world stands on the shoulders of this giant.

(I received this book free from Thomas Nelson as a part of

Friday, March 19, 2010

Friendly Friday: How Do You Know?

I've heard it.  I've seen it.  I've felt it. 
It's here. 
And it's wonderful!

Never mind that the forecast shows flurries next week.  Winter will not be back to stay . . . it's just saying goodbye slowly.  But it's definitely goodbye, not hello.

The year's at the spring
And day's at the morn;
Morning's at seven;
The hillside's dew-pearled;
The lark's on the wing;
The snail's on the thorn;
God's in His heaven -
All's right with the world!
~Robert Browning

It's Friendly Friday:  I ask. You answer.   
How do you know that spring is here?

I really want to know!


Thursday, March 18, 2010

Who Should I Serve First?

"To serve God is to serve people. 
To serve people is to serve purpose." 

These words from Beth Moore in her Esther: It's Tough Being a Woman study caused me to pause and ponder.  Immediately, these faces flashed through my mind:

And I had to ask myself, "How well am I serving them?"

Serve has several different meanings. Webster’s 1828 Dictionary says to serve is “to work for; to bestow the labor of body and mind in the employment of another.” This I do, at least in part. I’m constantly working to clean, cook, and care for my three. However, while my body may be engaged my mind is often far removed. I’m guilty of only half-listening as my rascals rattle on, only to get caught when they ask me a question . . . and I don’t know how to answer. I’m serving in body, not in mind.

There were two other definitions that really hit home. “To act as the minister of; to perform official duties to; as, a minister serves his prince.” Hmmmm. I started to consider my King, and just how he might wish for me to act as an officer to the ones with which I’ve been entrusted. And this verse from 2 Corinthians 5:20 came to mind,

“We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors,
as though God were making his appeal through us.”

Am I serving my family in such a way that God is appealing to them? Do they truly recognize Him as He is? Or is my service a hindrance to them?

And here’s why I know I need to work on how I serve. The word serve also means “to wait on.” Waiting is not my natural gift; I’m not a patient person. Yet, I’m always waiting on someone

To finish her meal
To finish his seatwork
To clean up his mess
To complete his chores
To find her lambie
To decide which snack she wants
To get his shoes on . . .

It’s an endless list. And why am I impatient with the waiting?

Because this girl right here. Me:

I have things I want to do:

Read a book
Clean the house
Talk to a friend
Check my email
Get in a workout
Read a blog
Take some pictures
Take a shower (a nice long, hot one) . . .

The list is endless. The time is not. A servant must choose who she’s going to serve first.  The greatest gets the priority, and in God's kingdom, the least is the greatest. 

Today, I'm going to follow someone else's example.  It is the greatest we have.
"The Son of Man did not come to be served,
but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."  Matthew 20:28


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

WORD-Filled Wednesday

Pointing us Godward today.  Linger over this song and sing praises of your own.

"For great is Your love, higher than the heavens;
 Your faithfulness reaches to the skies. 
Be exalted, O GOD, above the heavens,
and let Your glory be over all the earth."
Psalm 108:4-5

Fill up with His Word.


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Eating Rainbows

A long time ago in a land far away, a teenaged boy was kidnapped and taken from his homeland to live as a slave in a foreign country. After six long years, he managed to escape by walking two hundred miles where he found a ship and sailed home to his family.

And then, strangely, he went back to his captors.

Christ will do that to a person -- cause you to do things others find strange.

Patrick is now known as the patron saint of Ireland for his work as a missionary to that country. He took a people who were at the whims of the gods of nature and their druids, who even practiced human sacrifice, and showed them the way to their Creator and Savior. He was just one of several missionaries in Ireland at that time, but he is long remembered for the work he did there.

All this I learned as an adult while reading a picture book to my kids. I'm neither Irish nor Catholic so when I was younger, St. Patrick's Day was only about wearing green to avoid the mean kid who was sure to pinch you -- hard! Now, I try to teach my kiddos about the mission-minded man and the God who directed him.

This year to celebrate, we baked these fun cupcakes. I'm sharing the idea with you today in case you want to do the same.

I got the idea from Family Fun Magazine, a favorite of mine, and you can go to my Recipe Box if you're interested in learning how to make them.

There's no pot of gold at the end of these rainbows (maybe a pot belly if you eat too many).  May your treasure be this instead from the third chapter of Proverbs:

Blessed is the man who finds wisdom, the man who gains understanding,
for she is more profitable than silver
and yields better returns than gold.
She is more precious than rubies;
nothing you desire can compare with her.
Long life is in her right hand;
in her left hand are riches and honor. 

Tomorrow wear some green and maybe eat a rainbow.  Have a little fun.

And God be with you!


Sunday, March 14, 2010

Extreme Makeover: Divine Edition

A thought from Rob Bell caused a major renovation in my mind today. It needed it. We were watching the DVD Everything is Spiritual, when he said this:

“Everything is drenched in the Divine.”

My mind stuck on that phrase and rolled it over and over in my head. Everything? Really? My mind protests that this can’t be so. Telling my kids for the 140th time to pick up their socks surely isn’t drenched in the Divine. Sorting laundry, warming up a frozen pizza, mopping globs of applesauce off of Baby Girl’s face isn’t divine. Listening to the replay of a college ballgame given by my sports nut certainly doesn’t qualify either, does it? And preparing for a class only to have half of the people not show and others show up late can’t be listed in the Divine in my book.

And then this other thought from Rob Bell,
“What you look for, you will find.”

That’s when I had my makeover moment. I’m looking for the wrong things. When I focus on dirty socks, dirty faces, hurried dinners and boring replays, I’m not looking for the Divine. I’m looking for a way out. When I focus on late and absent members of a class, I’m not looking for the Divine. I’m looking at my own disappointment and frustration.

So bear with me as I pause for a moment, close my eyes and refocus. I’m going to look for the Divine.  With eyes closed, now I see:

Feet. Strong, healthy, running, happy feet. Working as God created them to. That’s what those socks belong to.

Food. Quick, nourishing, yummy food. Food that many others literally die without. And time. Time I didn’t have to spend preparing something in the kitchen. More time to spend with the blessings God gave me.

The Face. A sweet, smiling face under all that applesauce. I love that face. Thank you, God, for that face.

Friendship. Heartstrings tied with my son as he grows.  How blessed I am that he wants to talk to me.

Fellowship. Earnest, seeking friends who really want to be there – even if it means being twenty minutes late.

Excuse me as I rediscover the Divine. My life is drenched in it.

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